Never mind Lee Rhiannon as the symbol of crazed malevolence in Australian politics, Greens Leader Bob Brownâ€™s extraordinary oration at the National Press Club will be very hard for the vast majority of Australians to swallow.
It was a horrifying insight into how his extreme-left, wacky Greens political party will exercise its balance-of-power in the Commonwealth house of review, the Senate.
In his remarks, Brown confirmed that he will side with Labor to ensure even if Abbott is elected PM with a mandate to rescind the carbon tax and scrap any carbon emissions trading system prior to its commencement that the new PM would not be able to pass his agenda.
Thatâ€™s not an exercise of balance-of-power in any way that has been previously understood in Australian politics. Itâ€™s not a balance Brown seeks to exercise, itâ€™s a veto. It’s radically different from how the unlamented and extinct Australian Democrats did business.
And while their position on carbon is clear enough, theyâ€™re willing to risk our export and manufacturing capacity in pursuit of warm-inner-glow doom-politics, on other matters they are inconsistent and incoherent.
Their comedienne economics adviser has prepared a xenophobic and hysterical document calculating that 80%+ of mining operations are somehow â€“ shock, horror â€“ owned by foreigners. Of course that entirely depends on how you define foreign.
And yet despite playing the race card on the economy in the style of Pauline Hanson, Brown has publicly called for the creation of a One World Government, with one vote, one value. A global parliament, possibly based here in Australia, that would operate by consensus. Yes, really.
Leaving aside the merits â€“ or otherwise â€“ of letting the worldâ€™s biggest and often least democratic countries make decisions over us, itâ€™s the inconsistency and lack of coherence in Brownâ€™s statements that is the most jarring aspect. Heâ€™s against foreign investment in mining infrastructure in Australia but in favour of foreigners deciding what our laws would be.
He can say these bizarre and bizarrely inconsistent things â€“ or at least think he can get away with it â€“ because previously itâ€™s not mattered. But now it does.
They are all over the place. They loudly and repeatedly attacked Labor and the Liberals for taking campaign contributions from the wealthy and powerful yet they then took â€“ in secret â€“ the largest political donation in recorded Australian history, $1.6 million from a bloke who got rich expanding the worldâ€™s carbon footprint, Graeme Wood, the founder of wotif which flogs cheap airfares, car rentals, sea cruises and hotels to last-minute travellers. Despite making his fortune online heâ€™s against the NBN.
Like when the Victorian Greens are cornered by pesky scribes about some aspect of their ill-considered, usually vested-interest driven policy, their VEXNEWS annointed leader Greg Barber MLCâ€™s standard defence has been â€“ off the record â€“ well, weâ€™re not in a position to implement any of this so why are you persecuting us?
They manage to pretend to be pro-immigration (when asylum seekers are discussed) and yet their policy is stridently anti-immigration (when water/scarce resources are discussed). They say they care about education yet want to shaft independent schools, shut zoos and have previously demanded the axing of selective-schools even though they have provided an incredible gateway for disadvantaged but brilliant kids to fulfil their potential. They say they are concerned for the poor yet have policies that would send their power bills soaring and leave them unemployed. They profess to stay awake nights about carbon yet fly first class around the country and frequently go to all-important global enviro-gabfests.
Thatâ€™s the level of accountability the Greens political party want. None.
Their voters and donors have been remarkably understanding and forgiving. But now they have ten Senators, we suspect they will start to be subject to a genuine accountability.
And itâ€™s what theyâ€™ve got used to over a very long time where many journalists â€“ often sympathetic to their cause or at least charmed by Bob Brown â€“ would give them the benefit of the doubt.
We sense yesterday â€“ and more particularly tomorrow â€“ is the end of that beginning for the Greens political party. Yesterdayâ€™s speech by Brown was so over-the-top, so bizarre, so presumptuous that even the mostly friendly Canberra Press Gallery reported it for what it was: grandiose and stupid. Tomorrow, is the first of July. From that moment, ten Greens Senators will start collecting the highest salaries any of them have ever had and will be in a position to decide what laws and programmes are passed by the Australian government.
They have never had this power before and it is certain that it will attract unprecedented levels of scrutiny.
Their compromises â€“ should they make them â€“ will be probed. In relation to the carbon tax and its related ETS, it appears likely they will accept from Gillard a much less onerous impost on Australian industry than they refused from Rudd when they combined with the Coalition to vote down his â€œcarbon pollution reduction scheme.â€
For any other party, that embarrassment would be enough to cause a leadership change, an epic crisis and huge public backlash. The Greens party have been spared that, partly because size matters in politics and their small size meant they didnâ€™t matter.
But as of tomorrow, they become the third largest party in the Senate.
Are they ready for this new era of accountability? Not if Bob Brownâ€™s bizarre bombast at the National Press Club is any guide. They are a high-speed rail train-wreck just waiting to crash.